June 28, 2007

Visit to the Soudan Mine

One of the most interesting side trips we made while in the Ely area was to the Soudan Mine State Park. http://nrhp.mnhs.org/property_overview.cfm?propertyID=1

The Soudan Mine on the Vermilion Range is the oldest and deepest iron mine in Minnesota. Its opening in 1884 set the stage for Minnesota’s reign as the country’s leading iron ore producer. The mine was closed in the early sixties due to the ability to produce iron cheaply through strip mining at the surface. Although the ore from Soudan was very rich in iron (in some cases almost pure), the high cost and safety issues of operating a half mile underground made it unprofitable. The mine was donated to the State of Minnesota, and is now operated as a tourist attraction, with the original shaft elevator taking us down some 2500 feet. The tourgude for our adventure did an excellent job of explaining the history & significance of the mine, and knew Kim's Uncle Jim.

Kim's Grandfather (her Mother's Dad) worked at the mine, and lived in the small town of Soudan nearby. She has fond memories of visiting the Grandparent's home near the mine as a child, the highlight being trips to the local grocery (which is still there!) for candy!